Despite wild weather, low water levels, and one injury, this year’s crop of Outers “definitely rose to the occasion and did well,” on their 12-day canoe trip, said director Shane Fiore, who led the boys’ trip.
The boy’s trip got off to an unfortunate start late in the first day when paddling caused an old shoulder injury to flare up for Outer Cyle Peacosh, who by late in the day could no longer paddle. The injury was actually hockey-related, but it became clear that continuing on the trip would be impossible for him, said Fiore.
Instead of making it to Poohbah Lake on day two as planned, the three brigades changed course and paddled out to Beaverhouse Lake where Peacosh was picked up.
This unplanned jaunt put them a day behind schedule and required a change of route. “We had a big meeting with brigade leaders in the evening after we dropped off Cyle and they reconfigured their route,” said Fiore. (The trips make a loop through the park, beginning and ending at Nym Lake; teachers plan start and finish solo locations, and the Outers map out the rest of their trip). With the loss of one strong brigade member, and the fact that they chose a more difficult route out of Beaverhouse through Quetico and Badwater Lakes, “everyone had to work that much harder; they were on the water from dawn until dusk,” said Fiore.
The same was true for the girls, who with only seven members this year comprised one brigade. Such a low number was a first, said Fiore, who noted there are only nine girls in the entire class.
Having one brigade meant there was no fellow leaders to discuss navigation and offer moral support, yet the trip went well, all in all, said Outer Shannon Strom. “Our navigation was pretty good; we didn’t get majorly lost.”
Like the boys, the girls were also pretty much on the water for 12 hours per day, every day. “They had probably one of the longest trips in recent memory,” said Fiore.
The pace was grueling, but it led to some noteworthy accomplishments. “We were pretty proud because we finished the Death March, a 2,010 metre portage [from Conmee into Delahey Lake], in two hours.” She said they had to take two trips to carry the canoe and packs over before immediately crossing the next 860 metre portage.
“The biggest challenge for both the boys and girls was a lack of water,” said Fiore, adding that through most of the rivers, they had to either portage or unload the canoe to pass through the low water.
The weather was cool and wet, but the upside was a surprising lack of mosquitoes or ticks. “That was a first – the fewest in years, I’d say for sure.”
As a result of the setbacks, the boys had their three day solo camping portion on Sark Lake in the middle of the park, rather than the planned Mackenzie Bay on Kawnipi Lake.
“We put them out [on solo locations] at about 10 in the morning,” said Fiore. “For about four hours they had beautiful clear skies and sunshine to get ready – and then one wicked storm hit us.”
Wind and rain tested the quality of the Outers’s handmade shelters. “There were a lot of wet Outers out there. Even the staff [experienced] tents blowing around, trees falling down, so we were a little worried. We did an evening check and were happy to see they were all soaking wet, but sleeping and okay.”
That storm hit the girls on day three of their solo on Brent Lake, said Strom, whose shelter survived the onslaught.
On day eight, the skies cleared and the intense winds would have made travelling on the water impossible so it was fortunate both groups were still on solo and no travelling time was lost, said Fiore.
While navigation, endurance, and knowing how to make a durable shelter are valuable Outers lessons, perhaps just as important as the physical stamina and skills are the team work and inner mettle developed through 12 long, exhausting days. “We worked together. We came through some hard times but we came together and pulled through,” said Strom.
This year’s Outers were: Cole Sampson, Cody deGagne, Robert Tribe, Jesse Anderson, Anthony Caouette, Josh Stus, Peter Fairfiled, Brian Bailey, A.J. Mychasiw, Cyle Peacosh, Ryan Hampshire, Peter Kerr, Kyle Bayliss, Eli Anderson, and Nick Van Doorne; Manda Hall, Shannon Strom, Jessica Gosselin, Tamara Degagne, Cheryl Luptak, Haylee Foy, and Jessica Bodnarchuk. Staff: (with the boys) Shane Fiore, Ed Ojala, Jerimiah Hubert, Philip Decorte, Mac Cox, Greg Fulton; (girls) Brad Gascoigne (leader), Beth Fairfield, Pam Bujold, Chelsea Thorson, Jackie Kerr, Kristi Caouette.